Saturday, February 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991)

Hey! I didn't need to add the tagline!

With the unprecedented commercial success of Excellent Adventure, a sequel was a most certain result.


As we've established, Bill and Ted's music prevented the end of the world and ushered in the ongoing age of peace and prosperity that Barack Obama failed to achieve. Unfortunately, 0.00047% of 27th century Earth isn't happy with paradise; one Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) wants to set himself up as dictator by sending two robotic duplicates of the Wyld Stallyns (henceforth dubbed the Evil Robot Stallyns, or ERS) back in time to kill the real ones.

In 1991, Bill, Ted, Joanna, and Elizabeth are trying to enter the local Battle of the Bands... but while the princesses improved their music skills since the end of EA, Bill and Ted suck just as much as before. Miss Woodrow (Pam Grier), who is in charge of the BotB, ultimately relents and gives the Stallyns the very last slot.

A lot has happened since the History Report To End All History Reports: Bill and Ted have moved out and share an apartment and Missy-Mom has divorced Mr. Preston and married Captain Logan (her ex did not take it well).

"I can't believe Missy divorced your Dad... and married mine."

We meet the infamous Colonel Oats (Chelcie Ross), who only got mentioned briefly in EA. The Stallyns clearly fear him.

After the party, Bill and Ted pop the question to their respective lovers (ten feet away from each couple, in fact). All is not well, though: the ERS land in San Dimas to hunt down their carbon-based counterparts.

They trick Bill and Ted with a prank phone call using pitch-perfect imitations of Joanna and Elizabeth to make the boys think the princesses are angry with them. This depresses the boys to the extent that they start watching the original Star Trek. The ERS show up and the boys think it's future versions of them and claim to want to help the duo.

The ERS drives the Stallyns out to Vasquez Rocks, reveal that it was all a trick, and kill them! They hijack a Porsche and run off to assume the Stallyns' roles.

"It's the Grim Reaper, dude."
"Oh. How's it hangin' Death?"

The now-deceased dudes have become ghosts and quickly run into Death (William Sadler). If they can beat him at a game, the two can get their lives restored; but nobody has ever beaten him. Instead of playing him, the dudes give Death a wedgie, and get away.

They find out that the ERS is screwing up their lives and are plotting to kill Joanna and Elizabeth, giving them the objective to warn their loved ones in ways ranging from possessing Captain Logan (and another officer) in order to relay the info to the police and taking part in the only successful seance ever... well, apart from the one at Endor.

The dudes' meddling in the seance, however, sends them to Hell. I would go into a lecture about how Hell is shame and not the "fire-and-torture" interpretation you see all the time (like in this movie), but I will let it slide for the sake of the comedy.

"Get down and give me infinity!"

Bill and Ted get Satan's attention (he's voice by Frank Welker!), but he sends them into a prison-like area with numerous doors. The first door leads to a German Expressionist version of a military barracks where Colonel Oats forces the Stallyns to do infinity push-ups. They get away from him, but figure that if they split up, they won't get slapped with stuff that heinously harsh. They were wrong: Bill comes face-to-face with his ancient grandmother (who wants a kiss) and Ted runs into the thing he fears the most: the Easter Bunny!

"You stole Deacon's Easter basket!"

The Stallyns are cornered by the three fears at the intersection of three hallways. The only way out? Challenge Death.

"Best of seven?"

The boys spoof The Seventh Seal by playing "Battleship" with Death... and WIN (he hid his last ship in the J's)! However, Death is revealed to be a sore lose and they have to beat him at "Clue", "NFL Super Bowl Electronic Football", and "Twister" before he finally relents. Personally, I would have grabbed Holy Water, a Triple Shot, and kept spamming him as soon as he appeared.

Either way, Death lost to the right people. He could have gotten off much worse.

The boys win the right to go back to the world of the living, but surmise that the only chance they have against the ERS is with good robot duplicates. They go to Heaven, where we learn that the meaning of life is the chorus to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison. God directs the Stallyns to the Martian scientist Station (who can split into two smaller versions of himself and rejoin at will) who agrees to help the Stallyns build the Good Robot Stallyns (GRS).

TRIVIA: During the scene where the ERS capture the princesses, you may notice piles of what appear to be their clothes on the floor. In a deleted scene, Evil Robot Ted reveals himself to be Evil Robot Bill and vice versa, causing the princesses to faint. This was changed to them showing off their metallic innards, but the remains of the deleted scene remain,

Back in the world of the living, the Wyld Stallyns and company head back to civilization to construct the GRS. Meanwhile, the ERS have captured the princesses and are holding them hostage at the Battle of the Bands with the full intention of killing them.

The Stallyns get to the Battle of the Bands in the nick of time and easily defeat the ERS with the GRS. The victory is cut short when DeNomolos arrives, apparently having anticipated the robots' failure, and tries to kill the Stallyns. He even goes as far as to hijack every TV station on Earth to broadcast their deaths. What follows is the same act that occurred at the police station in EA, but slightly more dire (DeNomolos can play the "Time Game" as well). Fortunately, the Stallyns triumph and Death pulls off a little trick he'd learned from Bill and Ted on the villain.

Miss Woodrow, who gave the Stallyns their spot in the BotB, was Rufus all along; who else would agree to letting the Stallyns play? With DeNomolos and the ERS defeated nothing can interrupt the BotB anymore... but Bill and Ted still can't play... so they use the phone booth to get time to practice, marry, and have babies.

Some consider that a plot hole, because of the "San Dimas Time" rule: for the amount of time-travelling you do, you go that far into your own future. If you think about it, nothing said they weren't going to compensate for it, they just came back for the concert. Wouldn't want to leave hundreds of people standing around with their mouths agape!

With Station and Death part of the band now, Bill and Ted end the concert with an epic rendition of "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You", broadcast to the world! DeNomolos' plans to destroy them went horribly wrong and he wound up helping Bill and Ted.

Isn't hindsight funny, Chuck?

We end on a bunch of phony newspaper and magazine articles. You can read what they were really about, but it's not as blatantly obvious as the Glen or Glenda? headline.

Sorry you didn't win the BotB, Primus, but at least you'll do the theme to South Park in several years! You'll be a lot better off than the pain Captain Logan's gonna go through when Missy leaves him! XD


Occasionally, I see this movie shoved into "Worst Sequels Ever" lists: a most objectionable move. BJ may not be as good as EA for me, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I saw it before EA! Fortunately, Solomon and Matheson had the foresight to toss in references to EA here and there so I was able to assume (correctly) that BJ was a sequel.

The music, like last time, is great. "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You" has since become a signature karaoke song for me, but there were other tracks that were just as awesome: "Battlestations" by Winger (played as Station built the GRS) was most triumphant and "Dream of a New Day" by Richie Kotzen is an often-overlooked one that I liked (it plays when the Stallyns and Co. arrive at the hardware store); YouTube the song, it's good! On that note, you might notice that the Stallyns' background songs are a lot like the EA soundtrack, while the ERS uses Black and Death Metal.

Speaking of the ERS, they're pretty fun villains. Being robot copies of Bill and Ted, they have all their mannerisms, but are a bit smarter and quite evil (they purposely try to run over a cat at one point). They easily get on their DeNomolos' nerves.

Speaking of DeNomolos, despite his real name being Chuck, he hands out revisionist history books that say that his name is "Nomolos DeNomolos". I saw one explanation saying that "Nomolos" is an alias.

Of all the characters in this movie, my favorite is easily Death. It's so funny to see him act like a five-year-old kid when he loses at board games and his antics after joining up with Bill and Ted. Keep an eye out for him telling a smoking man "See ya real soon!". 

Yet there are a few things that, when you research the making of this movie, you wish made it into the final film. An amusing scene between the duo and a demon in Hell got cut out, but made its way into the trailer (and one line into the credits song):

"We totally knew a guy who got one of those in his bucket of chicken."

The second fight with the ERS was supposed to be much more elaborate, with Death singing on stage while the ERS kill Bill and Ted again. Death revives them because of them beating him a buttload of times.

But the one scene I look back on and just wish it could have been in the final print is where the ERS use three canisters that summon the Wyld Stallyns' greatest fears... on steroids! Col. Oats is packing heat, the Easter Bunny is the size of a Wookiee, and Granny Preston has this beefed-up wheelchair. They are only defeated when Bill mans up and gives his grandma a kiss, Ted calls Deacon about the Easter basket (a subject that he doesn't care about), and they show kindness to Oats. Interestingly, a tiny portion of the beginning survived on the televised version of the film: where Death tries out bubble gum.

But that's just me. Other than those bits that didn't make it, it's still pretty good. The attitude of EA was preserved like a holy relic.

Bottom line: a worthy sequel to a great movie.

I would say that this is it for our Wyld Stallyns Marathon... but there's one more thing we're going to look at: the biggest disaster with the Bill and Ted name attached to it. We'll tackle it next time.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. Party on, dudes!

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) was owned by Orion before it went under.